Lago Vista History

Lago Vista, TX is located on the North Shore of Lake Travis just northwest of the Austin City Limits.

The first known inhabitants of the North Shore can be traced back 10,000-15,000 years with the 1983 discovery of the pre-historic, Leanderthal Lady, a five foot tall, 18 to 25-year-old woman named after the nearby village of Leander near which she was discovered.

The City of Lago Vista resides in Travis County and mostly consists of a peninsula surrounded by Lake Travis, with very rugged terrain in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.

The Lago Vista area was initially populated by various Native American Indian tribes (most notably Apache and Comanche) and other sovereign nations (such as Spain, France, and Mexico). Control of the greater Central Texas area was fought over for centuries with the modern area beginning in the 1500's. In 1831 "The Father of Texas", Stephen F. Austin, settled 800 families in the area known at the time as the City of Austin's "Upper Colonies." From there the current story of Lago Vista and the North Shore community began.

Early families with instantly recognizable names including Lohman, Smithwick, Sylvester, and others, established commerce in the area with the famous "Lohman's Bridge" (aka Crossing or Ford) which was constructed in 1931 to facilitate easy travel between the North and South shore of the Colorado River. Upon the construction of Marshall Ford Dam, quickly renamed as Mansfield Dam after a prominent local congressman, the bridge, many homesteads, and farms were eventually submerged under what we now know as Lake Travis.

Prior to the construction of the dam, local residents were at the mercy of the "Feast or Famine" nature of the river with irregular floods and droughts wreaking havoc on the local infrastructure. Establishment of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) in 1934 initiated the process of multiple dams being constructed along the Colorado River to serve as both water storage and flood control measures while providing a steady, reliable source of drinking water for residents of the North Shore as well as the growing population of greater Austin.

Not surprisingly, the creation of Lake Travis increased the autonomy of the North Shore with bridges to the South submerged and new roads required to reach the increasingly isolated areas of Lago Vista and other North Shore communities.

Construction workers who built the numerous infrastructure projects in the 40's and 50's fell in love with the area and chose to resettle here. With reliable access restored, World War II vets and other military retirees began moving to Lago Vista in the 50's and 60's to enjoy the quiet refuge. Developers took a strong interest in the Hill Country's beauty and the recreational opportunities Lake Travis would provide. Jonestown began to grow about this time as well, and FM 1431 was upgraded to facilitate modern traffic. Over time, bus service to Austin was initiated.

In the 1980's, attempts by the City of Austin to annex the North Shore communities were abruptly halted when Lago Vista, Jonestown, and Point Venture all voted to individually incorporate. Today the North Shore is a thriving, growing triad of communities with everything from two large, regional supermarkets and a national pharmacy chain, to dozens of small owner-operated businesses from auto repair to zoological retail.

The area of Lago Vista became an incorporated City in 1984 with with a council-manager system of local government, and continues to restructure their operations  and grow as the quiet little lake community continues to rapidly grow.